HOUSTON – Sam Sloman spent the last six weeks separated from most of his Titans teammates, working out on his own to stay safe in case he was ever needed.
That's life for a handful of practice squad players in today's NFL/COVID-19 world.
Everyone knew Sloman on Sunday, as he was surrounded by teammates after kicking the game-winning field goal in the team's heart-stopping, 41-38 win over the Texans.
Yes, he was needed.
"It's been awesome to see everybody so excited for me after that last kick," Sloman said with a smile on a Zoom call after the game. "This is No.1 for sure (in terms of biggest kicks in my life). That's the first last-second field goal I've ever attempted in my life."
Sloman, promoted from the practice squad on Saturday to take the place of Stephen Gostkowski, who went on the Reserve/COVID-19 list earlier in the week, connected on a 37-yard kick on the final play of regulation on Sunday to help lift the Titans to the AFC South title. Sloman made both his kicks (he also kicked a 37-yarder) and all five of his extra point attempts.
"The last kick, it came off my foot, and I knew it was good," Sloman said. "I was super excited after they said it was good. … It was a little bit nerve-wracking (when it hit the upright), but I still knew it was going to be good, so I was super-excited."
Sloman began the season with the Rams, where he was 8-of-11 before being waived. He was signed to the Titans practice squad back in November.
Sloman, who played collegiately at Miami (Ohio), kicked with the team in practices for the first time this week.
Titans safety Kevin Byard admitted he wasn't sure who Sloman was at practice this week.
"Honestly, I didn't know who he was," Byard said. "Not to be funny or anything, but I thought it might have been one of our scouts out there. I didn't know if we'd signed a new kicker or whatever. But he came up huge today – he came in here and made all of his kicks. It is crazy because this guy goes from not having a job and he makes the game-winning field goal to put us into the playoffs and makes us win the division. God works in mysterious ways. I was happy for him, and happy for the team."
During his Zoom call with reporters, Titans linebacker Will Compton could be heard yelling, "Sloman, you're a (expletive) stud! You're a stud, Slo!"
Sloman, outfitted in the same No.2 jersey number late Titans kicker Rob Bironas wore during his playing career, said he was proud to represent the number well.
"It is pretty cool to be wearing the same number as (Rob)," Sloman said.